Ridley Scott is celebrating his 40th year as a film director in 2017, and it has been quite a year for the 80-year-old director. Early in the year, he had the box office smash “Alien: Covenant.” And now for late December, he has encountered one of the most incredible challenges bringing his latest film “All the Money in the World” to screens. The film is the story of the kidnapping of billionaire oil executive J. Paul Getty’s grandson in the 1970s. The film stars Michelle Williams as the mother of the kidnapped teen and Christopher Plummer as Getty. Both actors were recently nominated for Golden Globes for their performances based on a rough cut of the film shown to Globe voters.
Getting to this point and even having the film released at all this year has been an almost unprecedented struggle for Scott. The film was originally shot with Kevin Spacey as the elderly Getty. When Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor and other allegations (which led to his removal from the television series “House of Cards”) Scott chose to erase Spacey from the film and re-shoot all of his scenes using Plummer (who Scott says was his first choice for the role but studio executives wanted the more bankable Spacey in the part). Scott accomplished the re-shoots and final editing in under a month.
Lesser directors may have crumbled under such pressure and postponed the film’s release a year or so, but Scott has long been one of film’s great craftsmen. Not only have his films been visually thrilling they have also provided excellent acting opportunities for actors and many members of his casts have been Oscar nominated. Russell Crowe in fact won the Oscar for Best Actor for “Gladiator.” Scott himself though has never won an Oscar. On the occasion of the last-second release of “All the Money in the World” and its possible last minute entrance into the Oscar race, tour our photo gallery of Scott’s Top 15 greatest movies during his career.
15. BODY OF LIES (2008)
“Body of Lies” received a mixed response from critics and movie goers when it was released in 2008. The story of a CIA agent (Leonardo DiCaprio) involved in Middle Eastern politics and espionage has a somewhat convoluted plot but it does boast Scott’s typical high production standards and visual style.
14. ALIEN: COVENANT (2017)
The film seems to want to warn against the possibilities of robots or synthetic humans such as the one played by Michael Fassbender taking over the universe.
13. PROMETHEUS (2012)
Originally intended as a prequel to the first “Alien” film, “Prometheus” went through lots of changes and rewrites before Scott decided to film one that is set before the original “Alien” film but not directly related to events in the original.
12. A GOOD YEAR (2006)
“A Good Year” is a change of pace film from Scott who usually made films on a grander scale. Perhaps Scott identified a bit with his lead character who is a high octane British investment banker (Russell Crowe) who inherits a vineyard in France and learns to embrace a quitter kind of life.
11. AMERICAN GANGSTER (2007)
Scott once again teamed with Crowe for this atmospheric gangster film about heroin smugglers in 1960s Harlem, New York. Denzel Washington plays the gangster who runs the drug trade in the city and Crowe plays a DEA agent bent on bringing him down.
10. SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME (1987)
This taut thriller and domestic drama about a cop (Tom Berenger) assigned to protect a murder witness (Mimi Rogers) only to fall in love with her. The film boasts the first major performance from Lorraine Bracco who would go on to “Goodfellas” and “The Sopranos.”
9. WHITE SQUALL (1996)
Scott brought the same sense of suspense and fear to the ocean that he did to space in some of his earlier films in “White Squall.” Jeff Bridges stars as a teacher and sailor who takes a group of teenage boys on a sailing trip to teach them about the ocean and life only to have the group face much more life and death situations than expected.
8. MATCHSTICK MEN (2003)
The film boasts superb performances from its three leads Nicholas Cage, Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman. Cage stars as a small time con man afflicted with a number of psychological disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
7. THE MARTIAN (2015)
This comedic science fiction film was nominated for seven Oscars and won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy/Musical Film and for its star Matt Damon. The film brings Scott back to familiar territory: an astronaut stranded on Mars and trying to survive with an inability to signal anyone that he is still alive and his attempts to come up with schemes to get his home base hear him.
6. THE DUELLISTS (1977)
Scott got off to an auspicious start when “The Duelists” his first film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and won a special award there for Best First Work. The film received great acclaim from critics for its historical accuracy as well as its attention to detail in the costuming and art direction departments. This attention to detail would become a hallmark of Scott’s work.
5. BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001)
Scott received his third Best Director Oscar nomination and the war film itself won Oscars for its Editing and Sound. It is set in 1993 during a civil war in Somalia. As the UN tries to keep peace in the area the US deploys a bunch of special op forces to depose the leader of a militia who has declared himself the country’s leader.
4. GLADIATOR (2000)
“Gladiator” remains Scott’s most successful film at the Academy Awards where it won a total of five awards including Best Picture. It also won Best Actor for star Russell Crowe, Best Costumes, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects. This epic is about a Roman gladiator who returns to Rome to avenge the murder of his family by a sleazy Emperor played by Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix.
3. THELMA AND LOUISE (1991)
Scott received his first Oscar nomination for this landmark film that became a cultural phenomenon upon its release. It is the story of two female friends who go on an ill-fated road trip. When Thelma (Geena Davis) is being attacked by a man in the parking lot of a bar Louise (Susan Sarandon) shoots and kills the man to defend her friend. The two then decide to flee to Mexico to avoid prison.
2. BLADE RUNNER (1982)
While “Blade Runner” has become a film classic due to its stunning visual achievements and inventive story the movie was considered a bit of a disappointment on its first release. Expectations where high for the film since Scott was coming off of the huge success of “Alien” and Harrison Ford was following up “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Audiences expected another action-packed roller coaster ride instead of the moody intellectual drama that “Blade Runner” was.
1. ALIEN (1979)
The poster read “In space, no one can hear you scream” but audiences did scream quite loudly in what not surprisingly we have chosen as Scott’s greatest directorial achievement. The film mixed standard science fiction space travel with an Agatha Christie type “And Then There Were None” plot as slowly one by one the astronauts of a spaceship are killed off by a monstrous acid dripping lizard like creature.